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The Lessons Learned Handbook

Book Description

The phrase “lessons learned” is such a common one, yet people struggle with developing effective lessons learned approaches. The Lessons Learned Handbook is written for the project manager, quality manager or senior manager trying to put in place a system for learning from experience, or looking to improve the system they have. Based on experience of successful and unsuccessful systems, the author recognises the need to convert learning into action. For this to happen, there needs to be a series of key steps, which the book guides the reader through. The book provides practical guidance to learning from experience, illustrated with case histories from the author, and from contributors from industry and the public sector.

  • The book is a practitioner-level guide to the design and the mechanics of lessons learned processes
  • Takes a holistic approach, tracking lessons from identification to reapplication
  • Makes the case for the assignment of actions for learning

Table of Contents

  1. Cover image
  2. Title page
  3. Table of Contents
  4. Copyright
  5. List of figures and tables
  6. Acknowledgements
  7. Preface
  8. Chapter 1: Introduction – learning lessons
    1. Learning as a basic instinct
    2. Learning in organisations
    3. Lessons learned systems in organisations
    4. How well do they work?
    5. The value of learning lessons
  9. Chapter 2: Elements of a lesson learning system
    1. Lesson learning approaches in the 15th century
    2. What is a ‘lesson learned’?
    3. The steps in learning a lesson
    4. Closing the learning loop
    5. Trial and error, or trial and success?
    6. Survey results
  10. Chapter 3: Lessons learned approaches
    1. Formal collect systems
    2. Informal collect systems
    3. Formal connect systems
    4. Informal connect systems
    5. A blended approach
  11. Chapter 4: Principles of lesson identification
    1. When to identify lessons?
    2. The principles of lesson identification
    3. Aiming for the ‘quality lesson’
    4. Examples of poor lessons
    5. Recommendation:
    6. Stories and lessons
    7. Self-identification of lessons versus lesson identification processes
    8. The questioning process – the metaphor of the tree
    9. Roles and accountabilities in lesson identification
  12. Chapter 5: Processes of lessons identified
    1. Post-project reviews or retrospects
    2. After action reviews
    3. Individual learning interviews
    4. Learning histories
    5. Evaluations and assessments
    6. Incident investigation
  13. Chapter 6: Writing down the lessons
    1. Each lesson stands alone
    2. The lesson needs to be easy to follow and well structured
    3. How much context?
    4. Who is the audience?
    5. Attachments
    6. Quality assurance and validation
    7. Lessons must lead to action
  14. Chapter 7: Taking action
    1. Will there always be an action?
    2. What sort of actions are needed?
    3. How do you decide the action?
    4. Who assigns the action?
    5. Escalating the action
    6. Closing lessons
  15. Chapter 8: Process ownership and process update
    1. Who owns the processes?
    2. Local vs company process owners
    3. The role of the process owner
    4. Engagement with the learning cycle
    5. Lessons workflow
    6. Validation and escalation
    7. Documenting processes
  16. Chapter 9: Ensuring lessons and updated processes are re-applied
    1. Broadcasting new lessons and process improvements
    2. Process improvements and training
    3. Process review as part of operations
  17. Chapter 10: Technology to support lesson learning
    1. Lesson repositories
    2. Knowledge libraries
    3. Publish and search technology
    4. Tagging
  18. Chapter 11: Sharing and seeking the unwritten lessons
    1. Communities of practice
    2. Peer assist
    3. Baton passing
    4. Knowledge handover
    5. Promoting conversation
  19. Chapter 12: The governance of lesson learning
    1. A governance framework
    2. Make corporate expectations clear
    3. Lesson learning systems
    4. Monitoring and measurement
    5. The supporting organisation
  20. Chapter 13: The principles and processes of safety investigations
    1. What happened and why?
    2. The investigation process
    3. The final report
  21. Chapter 14: Learning lessons in networks at Mars, Inc
    1. Learn from where we are
    2. Learn from what we know
    3. Learn from the past six months
    4. Formalising the learning
    5. Summary
  22. Chapter 15: Wikis as part of a learning system; a conversation with Peter Kemper
  23. Chapter 16: How not to learn lessons
  24. Chapter 17: Conclusions
  25. Index